|About the Foundation
Too many South Carolinians, youth and adults alike, have little or no family history or experience with higher education. As a result, they fail to understand the importance of higher education and the positive impact that higher education can have on their lives and the lives of their family. Further, many South Carolinians are unaware of the impact that higher education has on the state’s economy, on development and the state’s ability to attract and retain businesses and, consequently, on the state’s ability to create jobs.
In addition to a well-documented earnings gap between high school graduates and dropouts and those with a higher education degree, there is also a growing challenge for individuals with only a high school diploma to find stable, well-paying jobs. The proportion of jobs requiring only a high school degree continues to shrink, and South Carolinians with a minimal level of education will continue to see wage levels and job stability decline as employers outsource work to other countries or incorporate technology for the completion of the simplest tasks. Since over 80 percent of today’s fastest-growing and highest-paying jobs require some post-secondary education, having a high school diploma plus the skills to succeed in college and the workplace are essential. From 2005 to 2007, before the sharp decline in the economy, the average unemployment rate for South Carolina was 5.8 percent. For citizens with less than a high school degree, the rate jumped to 12.1 percent. For those with a bachelor’s degree or more, it fell to 2.4 percent. South Carolina’s unemployment rate, today, is 11.0 percent – fifth worst in the country.
South Carolina has one of the lowest percentages of educated adults in the country – only 24% of SC citizens possess a bachelor’s degree; for African-American adults the percentage is less than half that of white adults. Without knowledge gained through education, individuals simply cannot compete in the 21st century economy. The availability of an educated, highly-skilled, highly-adaptable workforce is essential to economic prosperity for any city, state, region and/or country. Education has always been a critical factor in economic development, and having a low percentage of educated individuals makes economic development, business growth and expansion, and the creation of jobs particularly difficult in many South Carolina communities.
South Carolina ranks amongst the lowest states in terms of per capita income. U.S. Census data indicate that the correlation between state per capita income and the share of the working population with a bachelor’s degree or higher is 80 percent. Individuals with bachelor’s degrees pay substantially more in taxes and place significantly lower burdens on government programs. Just 3.5 percent of individuals with a bachelor’s degree or more live in poverty in South Carolina, compared to an overall rate of 14.11 percent. Only 8.5 percent of the working population with a bachelor’s degree or more is without any form of health insurance, compared to 37.5 percent of those with only a high school degree. And, just 5.7 percent of the working population with a bachelor’s degree or more receives Medicaid versus 33.3 percent for workers with a high school degree.
Higher education builds the foundation for ensuring self-reliance and economic prosperity. By working to erase the college access gap for underserved students and adults throughout South Carolina, the South Carolina Higher Education Foundation can enable these two groups to join their middle- and high-income peers in the workforce as educated, economically empowered citizens—who, in turn, invest their energy and capital back into their communities for the betterment of the entire state.
Goals and Objectives of the Foundation
As a result of the ongoing efforts and foundation programs, the following outcomes are expected:
- Increased interest and participation in higher education across all sectors and demographics in SC;
- Greater access to higher education and greater access to educational support services for SC’s underserved youth and adults;
- Greater understanding and appreciation among the state's business and political leaders and the public at large about the value added by higher education to the state's economy and the overall quality of life for all South Carolinians;
- Greater collaboration among and between college and university president, board chairs and trustees;
- Increased communication across SC campuses that helps find solutions to common problems, explores resource-sharing, increases efficiency, eliminates redundancy, continuously lifts their sights, and promotes openness to wider progress and development;
- Increased opportunities across SC institutions for dialogue, inspiration and innovation for the common good and for the good of individual campuses;
- Implementation and expansion of support activities across SC institutions that enhance the quality of instruction, research and services for all;
- Increased opportunities for professional development for SC college leaders and, as a result, increased productivity and effectiveness.